“Pessimists may be right, but optimists are happy.”

Hope is the expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Some people dare to hope. Others refuse it.

The refusers say things such as, “I don’t get my hopes up.”   “I don’t expect anything. That way, I’m never disappointed.” Yet others give up on life and lose hope altogether.

People with severe depression often feel hopeless. Their expectation is negative. They believe nothing will change, that they are powerless and they will always be miserable. However, while it is important to respect people’s feelings in an attempt to encourage them, it must be said that the conclusion, “I am powerless and this will never change” is not absolutely true. Being not absolutely true, it can be challenged.

There are plenty of stories of people whose lives have been shattered, who lost all hope of ever being happy, and then … they recovered! Was it a miracle? Or was it the result of something that the person did? Something that the person chose to change about his behavior, attitude or thinking?

In his remarkable book, Man’s Search for Meaning, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, clearly and simply tells stories of survival: who survived, who did not survive, and what was the difference between them. In brief, he says that when one’s situation becomes dark and hopeless, and nearly every freedom is taken from you, there is still one thing that no one can take from you. That is your freedom to choose how to think about your circumstances and how to respond to them. In addition we are always free to choose the meaning that we put to your events and circumstances. If you have been programmed to choose meanings that are cynical, suspicious or self-defeating, you will respond to adversity in that way. The worse your circumstances, the more intense the self-defeating reaction will be.

And yet, there is good news. Reliable long-term evidence proves that people who have lost hope can regain it by taking charge of their minds and choose to use their thought processes in order to re-wire the way the brain responds to adversity and stress. It has to do with the way we use our attention, what we focus on, our activities and the environments we choose to live in. That includes the people we spend time with.

This topic can’t be adequately discussed in a short article. The purpose here is to encourage anyone who feels sad, discouraged or hopeless and truly wants to find out if this can change. If this speaks to you and you’d like to explore the possibility of regaining hope and an optimistic outlook on life, please feel free to call (219) 309-3928. It would be an honor to be of service.

For more thoughts click Conflict # 28 Attitude and Flexibility

Thanks for reading!